The Best Horse for a Child

The Best Horse for a Child

What should you look for in a kid's horse? Two experts weigh in the must-haves in a horse for children and beginners.

gray kids horse competes in youth trail (Credit: Journal)

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

By Abigail Boatwright

The magic between a child and a horse is something special. Matching your child with the right horse is crucial to fostering a bond between the two. However, choosing a horse for your child is a bit different from buying an American Quarter Horse for an adult. There’s a lot riding on the selection process, and sometimes it seems like finding the perfect kid horse is like searching for a mythical creature.

They’re out there, though. Two experts to weigh in with crucial tips to think about during your hunt: Cathy Woosley-Luse is an AQHA Professional Horsewoman from Whitesboro, Texas, and AQHA Professional Horsewoman Angie Hughes hails from Sulphur Springs, Texas.

This is what the experts stick to when searching for a kid’s horse, as well as horses for beginners:

  1. Emphasize safety.
  2. Find a good-minded horse.
  3. Training is paramount.
  4. Lazy > speedy.
  5. Seasoned is the goal.
  6. Form to function.
  7. Don’t shop budget-only.
  8. Avoid red flags.
  9. A kid’s horse doesn’t have to be small.
  10. Avoid the “green horse, green rider” pairing.
  11. Gimmicks shouldn’t be selling points.
  12. Looks aren’t everything.
  13. Enlist help on your search.
  14. Don’t buy sight unseen.
  15. Be observant at the seller’s barn.
  16. Always invest in a pre-purchase exam.
  17. Encourage your child with a mentor.

Finding the Right Instructor for Your Young Rider

Rather than go it alone, it’s helpful to connect with an experienced horseman or -woman to aid you in choosing a horse for a child.

  • AQHA Professional Horsemen are respected trainers with a wealth of knowledge that could come in handy while horse shopping. Find one of our pros in your area at
  • The Certified Horsemanship Association is an AQHA alliance partner, and its member riding instructors are also a great resource. Search for them here:
  • The American Association of Equine Practitioners is another AQHA alliance partner that can help in the new-horse search. Find a veterinarian to do your pre-purchase exam at

Continue reading for advice on starting riding lessons and connecting with the right instructor